Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
August 10, 2009
Issue #342

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I know that a large group of my subscribers are interesed in some type of variety arts ministry.  The article on magazine back issues is information that they will find particularly useful.
Now that the summer is drawing to a close I will be doing some more lecturing.  You can find information on two upcoming events by checking the Educational Opportunities column.  As always I am looking forward to seeing Thought for the Week subscribers there.
Have a great day, 
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Jest In Time
Magazine Back Issues
Circus Lingo
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

 August 10, 2009

 Almost all of my performances were silent when I first began hearing magicians talk about the need for scripting your performance so I did not understand the importance of that practice.  The few times that I did speak I improvised what I said.  Eventually I did some performances, like my Tramp Tradition Show, which required scripting because of cues that would be followed by others.  Through experience I have discovered that my best performances were those that were scripted and then memorized.
The first advantage to scripting is figuring out your timing.  I was invited to speak for three minutes during a tribute to Richard Snowberg, the Clown Camp Director, at the recent Clown Camp .  I scripted my remarks and timed myself as I read them out loud.  What I had written took four minutes to read.  The conclusion was the most important part and I wanted to make sure I had time to get it in, so I edited out some of the earlier phrases.  The shorter version not only fit the time limit better, but it was sharper making it more effective.  I did go over my time limit, but not by much, because I didn't allow enough time for laughter when I read it in practice.
Be sure to read your script out loud.  Phrases may seem fine when you read them silently but can be tongue twisters when you try to speak them.  Also reading a written script out loud helps you to recall it because using two senses, sight and sound, helps lock it into your memory.
Having a script allows you to make discoveries while editing.  In a tribute that I performed to my mother I wanted to emphasize that the dates of her birth and death weren't the important parts of her life.  About the fourth time that I edited my script I realized that I could say, "On the day that she was born the only thing she accomplished was to open her eyes, cry, and start breathing.  On the day that she died she closed her eyes, stopped breathing, and her family cried.  Everything she did that was important came on days between those two."  I would not have been able to ad lib something that succinct and meaningful. 
Having a memorized script actually makes it easier to ad lib because you don't have to think about what is coming next.  You know what comes next so you can concentrate on what you are saying at the moment.  In my Magic Atlas routine (described in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three) I start by talking about how difficult it is to find your location in a map book because even though the index tells you it is in B3 that is still a big square full of tiny lettering.  Before a recent performance, Pam and Rick Moody had driven Carole, me, and another friend to dinner.  Pam had a GPS system in her car.  At dinner we discussed the GPS system announcing it was "recalculating" if you decided to vary your route.  During my show I realized that I could incorporate that into my routine.  I commented about Pam's GPS system recalculating.  That got a nice laugh.  Then I said, "I don't want somebody telling me where to go so I still rely on maps.  The difficult thing about maps is..."  That put me right into my scripted routine.
Your script serves as a safety net when you ad lib.  If your extemporaneous remarks don't get a good response you switch right back to the words you know from experience get the response that you want.
A memorized script also insures that you don't forget to say something important.  You can't stop in the middle of a joke or routine to say, "Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you..."  (That is unless it is part of your character's personality, in which case the mistakes are scripted in.)
A script documents what you included in the performance.  That way you can repeat those parts that worked best.  (It is often easy to forget an ad lib after a show is over.)  A script makes it easy to repeat a routine after a hiatus from performing it.  There are some routines I can't perform any longer because I don't remember what I said and did.
Now that I have realized the value of scripting, I also write scripts for my physical routines by describing what I do.  This is especially important with the little details essential to success. 
How can you use the scripting process to help you plan what you are going to say and do on stage?  How can you use a script as a memory aid?  How can you use a script to preserve your routines so you can repeat them again?

Jest In Time - Clearance Sale

When Marilyn Snyder received her copy of Jest In Time, she wrote, "I received it yesterday and am devouring it.  This will definitely be a re-read many times over.  How fun it is to gain wisdom!"

You can have fun devouring your own copy. There are still some copies left.  Remember to receive the clearance price of $8 plus $5 shipping you have to use the PayPal link below because this price is not currently available on my web site.  It is a special offer that I am making available first to Thought For The Week subscribers.

 This offer is limited to the copies that I have on hand.  When they are sold out this publication will not be available in this format again.  I am planning to produce an updated digital version.  I have done a little work on that and can tell that it is going to be a long term project.  So not only is this your last chance to get this information in printed form, it will probably not be available in any format for at least a year. 

Buy Now

Magazine Back Issues

Back issues of variety arts magazines are one of the best sources of fresh ideas.  Rodger Montandon published the Juggler's Bulletin in the 1040's.  In the early 1980's I had the opportunity to purchase a complete set of issues of that publication.  It was an invaluable treasure trove.  I found many ideas that I was able to incorporate into my juggling act.  Because everyone had forgotten about those ideas, I got credit for being very original.
The Fellowship of Christian Magicians publishes a magazine titled The Christian Conjurer.  Although the title of the organization and magazine refers to magic it is actually a variety arts organization.  The magazine includes articles on ventriloquism, clowning, balloon sculpture, and other skills.  The FCM has now made copies of all the issues of the magazine available in a digital PDF format on a DVD.  Since the organization is over fifty years old that totals more than 375 issues.  (The issues that were membership directories are not included.)  You can use any PDF reader, for example the free Adobe Reader, to search for information.  You can search for a key word, verse reference, name, or author's name.  You can search a specific issue, all the issues in a year, the issues in a decade, or all of the issues.  (The search takes longer the more issues you include.)  I received my copy recently and have just started exploring it.  Within the first hour I found an idea that I will definitely be using.  This archive is available only to members of the organization.  However, if you have any interest in variety arts ministry I recommend becoming a member.  Every year I have received helpful information from their publication that has helped me in my ministry appearances.
Because I have subscribers from around the world I am including a link to the international home page.  To get more information on joining in your region use the nation link in the center of the page.  That will take you to material specifically of help to you.

Circus Lingo -- Candy Butcher

A Candy Butcher is somebody who sells refreshments in a circus, particularly the ones who take trays into the stands.
I always made sure to become friends with the Candy Butchers when I traveled with a circus.  Since they moved around the entire tent they were often the first to spot potential hazards.  More than once they tipped me off to watch for something like broken grass hidden in the turf near a ring.  That allowed me to change where I planned to land after a fall.
I spent some time before each performance entertaining people in the stands, and the Candy Butchers would warn me of rowdy guests that I might want to avoid. 
John Gurken was the Head Candy Butcher when I was with Circus Kirk in 1976.  He told me that he could tell how successful a show's concession stand was by tasting their pop corn.  He said to make the most money a Head Candy Butcher would put extra salt on the pop corn so people would become thirsty.  Next they would send in trays of Snow Cones because they really do not satisfy thirst.  Then they would send in the drinks. 
When I attend a circus, I don't purchase pop corn until I have seen them start to come around with drinks so I know they are available if I do get thirsty.  I love popcorn when I go to a movie, but I never used the salt shaker that is usually handy on the counter.  I know that the popcorn probably has plenty of salt on it already.
Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.
Remember if you have missed an issue, you can read it by using the archive link in the right column.  If you want to change the address where you are receiving this newsletter, use the update profile link below.  If this newsletter no longer meets your needs, you can use the SafeUnsubscribe link to be permanently removed from my mailing list.  If you want to spread the word about this newsletter, you can use the forward email link below to send copies to others that you think might be interested.
I hope to see you down the road.

Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2009 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 

Educational Opportunities
October 15-18. 2009
Northwest Festival of Clowns
 Olympia. WA
Red Nose Festival Competition Coach and Vendor
 November 4-8, 2009
Next Step Workshop
Wilmar, Minnesota
This is an advanced workshop for those serious about Gospel Clown Ministry.  It is limited to fifteen participants.
July 9-15, 2010
Clown Camp Singapore
Sixteen hours of classes over three days plus four days of performing in Singapore schools. 
I believe in promoting any event I will be lecturing at.  If you schedule me for an educational event that you are hosting, I will list it here.  My goal is to do what I can to best meet the needs of you and your group.
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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